Saturday, March 03, 2007

What Direction Should They Take?

Change is inevitable...Growth is optional. Let's look at a typical restaurant scenario. The Golden Plate Restaurant has been open for 10 years. It has been VERY successful until recently. The last two years business has decreased by 65%. Despite menu changes, staff training and last year an expensive renovation business continues to decline. After reviewing an in depth analysis by an outside consulting company the owners are reluctantly considering to sell the restaurant.


Keep the restaurant and hope business gets better or just sell the business they really love? There is one important item missing in this scenario. WHAT ARE THEIR CUSTOMERS SAYING.

Today possible one of the most important business tools is customer feedback. Using the technology we have feedback is almost instantaneous. Many times we cook, serve and manage restaurants based on our dream without listening to what the customers are telling us. GUESS WHAT? They go to our competitor down the street or across town. As we move forward on this Restaurant Service Journey let's start serving the customers based on their needs not ours. Is that a NEW thing?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Everything New

In our previous blog we commented on old service standards returning in a different form (i.e. tableside preparation without the cooking.) But what about new things replacing old? In our Restaurant Journey there is definitely a need for this. What is being replaced? MINDSET! Many seasoned restaurant professionals cling to the old way of providing service. From the stuffy aloof service of ultra formal dining rooms to the casual "hi honey" diner service. Many of us managers try and continue to manage in the old "burn em and turn em" management style that was so evident (and still is in some restaurants) 10-15 years ago. Well it's WAKE UP time for seasoned restaurant professionals, if they are going to be successful in today's restaurants. This means learning technology, new guest and employee relationships skills, food and wine trends, etc. Their is a saying "you can't put water in a glass that is already full." Before we can grow we must know we are short. Seasoned restaurant professionals must realize what worked in restaurant service 10-20 years ago will not necessarily work in today's restaurant environment. So my challenge to my fellow seasoned restaurant professionals; "let's stop reveling in how we did it in 70 and 80's and relish how we are doing it NEW in 2007.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Nothing New

Who remembers tableside service? Many of us who are seasoned (i.e. older) restaurant service professionals remember tableside service. The days of steak dianes. ceasar salads, strawberries romanoff, bananas foster, carving racks of lamb, etc.etc. In fact there was a time in certain areas if you couldn't perfrom tableside service you couldn't work in a formal diningroom. We studied cuts of meat, sauces, cooking tempatures, carving and you were asked to make at least 2 tableside dishes as part of our interview. Where am I going with this? There seems to be a resurgent in tableside service with a twist. Today's tableside service is not a lot of cooking but the SERVICE part emphasized. Why? BECAUSE CUSTOMERS/GUESTS WANT PERSONAL SERVICE. I am hopeful that as we move away from order takers/waitpersons we will embrace Service Professionals as a job description in the future. Of course this coin has two sides. The other side of being called a Service Professional means you must know your craft. Wine service, food preparation techniques, sauces, infusions, proper service and professional demeanor. This requires training and SELF-STUDY. As we move into a New Year we truly know "Change is inevitable Growth is optional" May we have a FRUITFUL 2007.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Secret to Service Success

Okay we've been discussing this Restaurant Service Journey long enough, what's the bottom line? Is there one key to successful service in all restaurants.? Yes! OUR SERVICE STAFF. This includes management, utility, bussers, servers, cooks, hostpersons, etc. Anyone which is everyone who contributes to the service of your guests/customers. Today usually minimum amount of time and resources are spent on having the best staff possible. We spend huge amounts of money on marketing, equipment, decor and produce. We then cut costs in wages, uniforms, benefits and training. Then we have countless meetings on why we have little repeat business, high turnover, poor morale, theft and unprofessional service. Very few industries would send out the key people who represent their organization improperly attired, without proper tools, insufficient training and underpaid. We in the restaurant business do it daily. Let's think outside the traditional restaurant management box for a second. We build our business from the ground up. Demographic surveys, menu engineeering, market analysis, etc. We do look for that unique chef to fit our cusine and maybe a front of the house manager that understands our vision. We get the latest cool uniform for service staff (of course we don't think of getting input from anyone who will be working in them) maybe a Head server, hostess or captain, they haven't been hired yet (save that labor) NOW last but not least we have a job fair and hire 100 people for 60 permanent positions. Never would have thought of hiring 60 people who will stay with our restaurant if we offer professional working conditions similar to other professions. Rush through an accelerated training program and Viola! Opening night. What's wrong with this picture. You do the math. Honestly their are many restaurants and restaurant organizations that train and provide service staff with a professional environment to succed in. However generally the aforementioned scenario is the norm in our business. My love for the restaurant service and optimism for our industry tells me this is changing.

Monday, September 25, 2006

New Concept

The last three months have been; challenging, exciting and informative. Changing a concept (like....opening a new restaurant) is quite different then a few years ago. I had the opportunity to be part of opening a new casino in Vegas years ago (No! I'm not telling you how many) and the difference is amazing. However moving forward let us examine something I found very unique with this concept change. The priority on service. Many times we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars creating a beautiful dining establishment and then pinch pennies on service training. Or we rush through a training program that dosen't take in account the strenghts and weaknesses of the staff. And we wouldn't think of asking the staff their input when we are setting up the training program. I call this cookie cutter training. A truly long term succesful new concept needs the input of all the team. From the design phase to execution of the food, beverage and service. So! In a nutshell what am I learning from this exciting concept change adventure. TEAMWORK + PROPER TRAINING = STEPS TOWARD A SUCCESSFUL NEW RESTAURANT.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

New Horizons

WOW! From Transition to New Horizons.

In the exciting journey of restaurant service we are always moving. The opportunity to open a new concept was an offer I could not refuse. Sooo... here we are dancing to the exciting beat of developing something new. When one is fortunate enough to actually get paid for their passion "how cool is that"(quote from my better half)

The restaurant industry is changing. The days of formal aloof service is becoming a memory. Our customers are asking (no demanding) friendly, knowledgable and professional service. They want PEOPLE not robots to serve and make their dining experience memorable. Investors, Owners and managers who can't or won't reconize this trend will slowly fade into the past with the aforementioned formal service.

As we move forward on this exciting journey we better have on our running shoes. What! You don't have running shoes but you want to run the race. THAT! Sounds like the making of our next blog. You need the proper equipment to provide the best service. From technology, uniforms, etc. to china, glass and silver.

Stay tunned.........

Friday, March 17, 2006


I was a sprinter in school (100, 220 yd and 440 yd relay) yes I know it was back in the stone ages (do they still run in yards?) Well like I said being a former sprinter we know how to press to the finish for victory.

In our Restaurant Service Journey as we press toward the finish of an exciting career, we've received a jolt of energy. I've been given the opportunity to work in the top category of my company. Having worked in this area many years ago I am looking forward to see the changes in technology and service improvements.

In this era of guest preference databases, profiles, rewards programs Hospitality Executives are beginning to understanding the importance of good old fashion "SERVICE" technology is great and necessary but at the end of the day, the service is the main reason a customer or guest will return or go to a competitor. We fully understand great food and ambiance are important also.

I don't believe this exciting new race will be a sprint but more like an invigorating marathon. So come and run with me. It's TRANSITION TIME.